God’s Plan for Israel
By Sam Nadler
As you read this, Word of Messiah is preparing to go back to Israel next month for our ongoing ministry in that troubled Holy Land. Though some may question why we even bother, understanding God’s plan for Israel clarifies this issue and leads us to pray and do all we can to reach out to the lost sheep of Israel.
Israel Past: Chosen to Serve
Why did God choose Israel to begin with? People have speculated that perhaps God chose Israel because of our “communication skills” (so many Jewish comedians!); or our supposed “ability with money” (except in my family!), or even a new stereotype: “because we’re all so good looking!” Nice try, but those who know me would never believe that! Seriously, why did God choose Israel? God chose Israel, not because Israel was the greatest of peoples, but because we were, in fact, the least: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more than number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Deut. 7:6-8). Though God did choose Israel and called us to be priests to the nations (Ex. 19:5-6), we were not the most spiritual of peoples, but rather, God calls us a “stiff-necked” people: “Know then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Deut. 9:6). Amazingly, God sovereignly chose to love Israel because of their weaknesses, in order to demonstrate this principle: His grace, according to His promise, is sufficient for any person to trust in for their own fulfillment (see 1 Cor. 1:26-30; 2Cor. 12:8-10). Thus we see why Israel was chosen: to be God’s instrument of love expressed to the entire world. This blessing of love and grace would be ultimately personified in Yeshua, the seed of Abraham, Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:14; Rom. 9:5).
Israel Present: Service Suspended
In Romans 11, Israel is typified as “natural branches” broken off of the “olive tree.” This olive tree is a picture of Israel’s service for God, as every part of the olive tree was used in Temple service (wood, oil, etc.). For the past two thousand years, Israel’s full national spiritual service has been temporarily suspended, like a train sidetracked while it undergoes repairs. At the present time, there is a Jewish remnant of believers in Yeshua that represents Israel in service: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). So what happens now? Hardly a day goes by without some news of terrorism or warfare in Israel. Why? Rather than ‘occupying the land of Palestine’, Israel is simply endeavoring to survive in the very land promised and given to their forefathers by God. There’s the rub: sinful, fallen man resents a holy God and thus resents the very people who are a reminder of God’s faithfulness. The propaganda and military war of terror against the only Jewish nation on earth is the expression of the spiritual war headed by Satan. This Adversary of God and man operates through the lives of lost people in an attempt to destroy Israel. Why? The destruction of Israel would negate God’s promise to keep Israel (see Psalm 121). But God will keep His promises through the Body of Messiah, made up of Jews and Gentiles, as His faithful testimony in the world and therefore, one day all Israel will be restored!
Israel Future: Service Restored
The Olive Tree also reminds us of the restoration of Israel’s spiritual service to God. This restoration will occur at the end of the future Tribulation period, after the “times of the Gentiles” are concluded (Luke 21:24), and the nations, led by the anti-Messiah have ‘filled up’ their rebellion against God. In that day, the world’s attempt at a “Final Solution” regarding Israel and “those Jews” will be a catalyst for the Second Coming of Messiah, Who will return as Israel’s Kinsman-Redeemer (see Rom. 11:26-27), and He will then destroy His enemies at Armageddon; (Rev. 16:16). To all nations of the earth, God, Himself, has sternly warned, “And it will come about in that day, that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9). Unfortunately humanity rebels against God and as David wrote in Psalm 2, they “…take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Messiah.” It is at the end of the Tribulation period, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), that surviving Israel will trust in Yeshua and be grafted back into the ‘olive tree’, even as Paul prophesied – “and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob'” (Rom. 11:26-27). According to the prophet Zechariah, in the future, Israel will look to Messiah, “whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10), confess their sin of rejecting Him (see Isa. 53) and at that time, Israel will be cleansed of their sins through His atonement (Zech. 13:1). Zechariah then states that the result of Israel’s “looking to Messiah” will be His return to planet Earth to rescue them, “And in that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:4). This correlates perfectly with the New Covenant teaching that Messiah will not return until Israel nationally repents, as Yeshua said, “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Matt. 23:39). In that day Israel’s repentance and trust in Yeshua will usher in the Messianic kingdom period declared by all of Israel’s prophets (Acts 3:19-22).
God is Faithful!
Though the enemies of God have consistently attempted to destroy Israel, to thwart the work and redemptive plan of God (see Ps. 83:1-6), through it all God has faithfully kept Israel even to this day! Understanding God’s plan for Israel helps all believers understand why Paul, the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’, always ministered to “the Jew first” (Rom. 1:6). Paul knew that “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew,” and Paul’s preaching to Israel was evidence of God’s faithfulness to His people. Since God has been faithful to His people – even though by-and-large they have not believed Him – we who have believed Him can have confidence of our salvation in Messiah Yeshua, for He who promised is faithful!
Your prayers and support of our work to bring the Good News to Jewish people around the world each month and in Israel next month, is actually a living demonstration that you trust in God’s promises!
Thanks, and please remember, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”